I received several requests for any tips I might have to share on potty training. As we have successfully completed our first two weeks at potty training, I have definitely learned a lot! I read several books in the process of preparing to do this, but the best tips I found were from those who had gone before me – my mom especially. I remember the days when she trained my two younger twin siblings. She allowed them to run around on the deck and grass for several days half naked and then would just spray them off with the hose when they missed the potty chair. It worked splendidly.
Expose them well - Start by purchasing a potty chair a few months before you are ready to start training and simply begin talking about it. Allow them to sit down on it and talk about going potty and making the sounds “pss”. We found the books on potty training for kids to be fun and helpful, such as The Potty Book for Girls & Big Girls Use the Potty (of course they have companion ones for boys). We started reading these awhile back. If you can get them around others that are learning to use the potty as well that is very helpful.
Child’s potty - having her own special potty definitely was far less intimidating for my daughter than sitting on the toilet. Maybe it’s just a girl thing, but she was afraid of the toilet but didn’t mind using her potty chair. We chose the Bjorn Potty Chair because it seemed like it would be effective and comfortable for both girls and boys.
Panties/underwear – Big girl/boy underwear seems to be most effective in training as they can really experience the wetness. Cloth training pants or pull-ups are just like a diaper so it is hard to distinguish a difference. This was my mom’s advice which I am glad I followed – saved me money too! We do use cloth diapers or pull-ups for bedtime, naps and when we are out and about to prevent accidents, until they got the basics down.
Small treats- M&Ms, gummy bears, etc
Small stool – Karis loved being a big girl and having a special stool with which she could turn the bathroom light on and off and wash her hands. She can do it all with this cute little stool as it is light and easy for her to move around.
Transitional potty seat - this is helpful but not essential. Good to keep in the car when you are out. The Primo 4 in 1 seems like a nice option here to help you simplify.
Juice, milk or special drinks – these are useful when you are trying to just get them going frequently. Keep them drinking a lot and you have more opportunities to practice on the potty.
- Start by selecting a time when you can just take a good week and focus on training. Don’t try to squeeze it in within other big events. Pull back and enjoy your little one. It really can be a fun time to build your relationship as your read lots of stories and praise and encourage them alot!
- Allow your little one to run around naked from the waist down for the first few weeks. If you can keep them outside then it is even better (thus I recommend training in the summer). We had a little kiddy pool set up on our back deck and we just spend a few days hanging out there playing in the water. For the first day, we just sat on the potty the entire day (for the most part) and read stories or let her play with my i-pod. It helped her just get the feeling of going.
- I found that she normally needed to go every 45 minutes to an hour, so I would just regularly in this time frame say it was “time to use the potty”, and most of the time she would go. If she went, we would cheer her on and reward her with a little treat. This definitely encouraged her to keep it up.
- Stay close to home for the first week or so. My first mistake was to leave the house for the day just 3 days into training. She did not want anything to do with the potty when she was distracted with playing with others. She also was scared of the toilet and did not want to try it.
- Bring your potty chair or transitional trainer with you when you go out – for the first while it is definitely very helpful to carry the tools with you. This would have helpful in that previous example if we had brought the seat she was most comfortable with at this stage.
Those are my thoughts!
UPDATE: Karis was completely potty trained (including nights!) in five weeks time. I was blown away. I definitely think that it is extremely helpful to potty train in the summer when she was able to go naked outside on our deck. Also, avoiding any form of training pants was also key. She wore big girl panties from the start. I cannot emphasize enough how this really worked for us! I also think waiting till she was 26 months also was a huge plus. I read one study that showed a higher success rate at the 26 month age and it worked for us. As far as night time training goes, after we got fully trained during the day, we just let her go to bed with her panties at night. We made sure to use the potty before bed. She wet the bed one or two nights and then she got the idea to get up if she needed to go. It worked!
Titus (6/2011): Titus is now 27 months and my goal was to get him fully potty trained before baby #3 arrives in August! We started with a full day of outside play on a sunny day with the potty while being naked, drinking lots of fluids, playing in the pool, reading books together, and giving a special treat every time he went on the potty. Again, we used real big boy underwear and not pull-ups (Thomas the Train underwear have been a huge hit!) He freaked out at first when he went on himself and was very hesitant towards the idea of sitting on the potty. I thought for sure he wasn’t ready yet, but really felt I needed to persevere for a few more days before making the final call.
My husband starting encouraging me to give him a little more space and stop nagging him so much about sitting on the potty (as I was asking him every 30 minutes if not sooner). I stepped back a bit and didn’t ask so frequently (maybe once an hour), but rather encouraged him to sit down when sister, myself, or daddy sat down on the toilet. He seemed to really like the idea of going together. Imagine my surprise, after a few days into it, he really started getting independent. He wanted to do it on his own. Everything from sitting on the potty, to dumping into the toilet. He started going on his own without even telling me. There has been a lot of laughter and fun in the process! I just have been amazed that by giving him a little space, gentle reminders, rewards, and going together, has really inspired him to take it on. He is only wearing diapers at night time now (after a week into it). It seems the age factor of 26-27 months has been hugely beneficial for both my kids in making this an easy transition. And boys are not harder than girls in my experience. If anything, Titus has been easier!
Obviously every child is different, so give yourself grace for the journey, but these tips have been successful with both my little ones, so I thought I’d pass it on!
Do you have any additional tips or recommendations to share?
Toilet Training in Less Than A Day – this book explains the process of the intentional focusing on toilet training for a day by drinking plenty of liquids and offering a reward. I found two or three days of this was hugely helpful in launching well into potty training. Very helpful!
Potty Train Your Child in One Day – Another book very similar to the above!